As mentioned in Slack’s blog post, their logo was designed before it even launched; it doesn’t specify what year but even if it were 2012 or 2011, it was a time before the hash tag had become the ubiquitous symbol it is today. At the time it may have seemed unique and appropriate — as it tied in with Slack’s “channel” system — but today every single social platform uses hash tags in a significant way. Not as their logo, sure, but as an integral part of their content and, to me, that has always been the most significant aspect holding back the old Slack logo. It was simply too generic of a mark and that’s why it was drenched in 11 colors and rotated at an angle — a sort of extreme measure to own the symbol. The variation where the symbol was a single color and placed in a heavily rounded-corner square was the most successful and had the possibility of outpacing the ubiquity of the hash tag on its own. However, it was the super colorful version that most people associated Slack with. All this to say, as much as many people had grown accustomed to the hash tag symbol, I don’t think it had enough depth to build a multi-billion-dollar public brand with.
Vit is absolutely right: Slack doesn’t own the hash. In fact, if the hash were associated with any specific company, I’d say Twitter is probably most associated with the mark, with Instagram just behind it. Dropping the hash was not a bad choice.
That doesn’t mean that the new brand is any good, though. At best, it looks completely generic — put just about any word beside its logo and it could easily be that company’s brand. If you told me that this was the new logo for some accounting software or the city of Miami or Wellbutrin, I’d totally believe you.
Setting that aside, the quality of craft on this project also leaves a lot to be desired. One of the apparent possibilities that Pentagram considered was the waving hand emoji that, in draft form at least, used Apple’s emoji artwork; another was a serif adorned with coloured dots that would have looked more at home on the packaging of an early 1990s educational game. Notably, not a single possibility is shown with a tilt in Pentagram’s drafts. Maybe levelling out the logo was a requirement for Pentagram; if so, that’s unfortunate, as I’ve come to associate the tilt with Slack’s brand as much as its signature plaid.
Also, the flattened counter of the “a” in the wordmark makes it look unrefined and incomplete.
All of these things can be true: Slack probably could have used a rebrand, lots of people worked hard to put this together, the result is ultimately unsatisfying, and I do not know the constraints faced that ultimately produced this. And it’s not just a logo. Slack is on the first home screen of my iPhone, and that’s probably true for many of you. I see this thing every day. I didn’t love the old logo and I don’t miss it, per se, but I think this is a regression.